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  • Global COVID-19 digest: lockdown in Austria, fifth wave in France

Global COVID-19 digest: lockdown in Austria, fifth wave in France

22 November, 2021 12:15

Coronavirus continues to circulate around the world with some countries witnessing a surge in infections, despite the progress in vaccination. Strategy2050.kz has the latest. 

Cuba has abolished mandatory PCR tests for people entering the country. From November 15, Cuba abolishes mandatory on-arrival PCR testing for international arrivals that will now be carried out randomly.

From November 7, Cuba no longer requires international passengers to undergo a 72-hour quarantine period upon arrival, but passengers will still have to present a negative PCR test. Those fully vaccinated will not need to present a negative pre-travel PCR test result, but not fully vaccinated will still have to comply with this requirement. 

Israeli authorities said children aged 5-11 will be able to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The Ministry of Health's Director-General Prof. Nachman Ash explained that the vast majority of the members of the committee are of the opinion that the vaccine is of a good safety profile. 

Efficacy data presented by Pfizer indicate efficacy of 91 percent in preventing illness in children aged 5-11 years in a controlled clinical trial. Most experts believe that the benefits of vaccination of this age group outweigh the risks, and therefore he accepted their recommendation to approve the use of the vaccine among this age group. The starting date will be announced soon, said the Ministry of Health. 

France will start a booster shot campaign for people aged 50-64 in December, said French President Emmanuel Macron in a televised address to the nation on November 9. France also brought back its mandate to wear masks for elementary school children from Monday as it saw a fresh surge in cases with daily infections topping 10,000. The incidence rate increased 40 percent over the past week. 

“Get vaccinated. Get vaccinated to protect yourself. Get vaccinated to live normally,” he said as quoted by France24 news agency. 

From November 15, Austria puts unvaccinated citizens into lockdown. People who are not vaccinated will not be able to go outside except for essential reasons, such as work, pharmacy, and groceries. This move, though seen as a very strict one by some, is meant to help the country curb the recent surge in cases. Austria’s 65 percent are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in Europe. 

Singapore officials decided to ease restrictions from November 22 by allowing fully vaccinated people to gather in households and restaurants in groups of up to five from the current two. 

 “As of November 20, 2021, 94 percent of our eligible population has completed their full regimen/ received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Among the total population, 85 percent has completed their full regimen/ received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, 86 percent has received at least one dose, and 23 percent has received their booster shots,” said the country’s Ministry of Healthcare.

As part of the effort to protect unvaccinated individuals from getting infected, who are at greater risk of severe illness, Singapore will remove a negative PCR test requirement for unvaccinated individuals starting next year.

“Hence, only fully vaccinated, recovered, or medically ineligible individuals, or children aged 12 years and below (subject to venue/event-specific caps) will be allowed to enter settings where VDS (Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures) is implemented. We will effect this on 1 January 2022, to allow time for more individuals to complete their primary series vaccination regime,” said the ministry. 

In Kazakhstan, the officials are optimistic about the epidemiological situation but warn citizens to stay cautious as the holiday season approaches. Kazakhstan had 964,749 coronavirus cases and 81,973 coronavirus pneumonia cases since the pandemic began in the country, according to coronavirus2020.kz. 

As of November 22, 2021, 8,664,492 people received the first component and 7,946,192 people were fully vaccinated. 

Currently, Kazakhstan offers locally produced QazVac, Russian Sputnik V, Chinese Vero Cell, and recently delivered Pfizer vaccine to its citizens. 

"The first batch of 379,000 doses of Comirnaty vaccine (Pfizer) arrived in Kazakhstan. Delivery of the second batch is planned until November 20. Vaccination began in seven regions of the country - Zhambyl, Karaganda, Kyzylorda, Turkistan, as well as Almaty, Nur-Sultan, and Shymkent cities. As of today 1,313 children and 247 pregnant and breastfeeding women were vaccinated," Minister of Healthcare Alexei Tsoy told a government meeting on November 16.  

He said that the majority of infections are among unvaccinated citizens. The proportion of unvaccinated patients to the number of registered cases from February 1 is almost 95 percent, while only 5 percent of vaccinated citizens got infected.

"I once again want to urge our people who have not yet been vaccinated to take the right decision in favor of vaccination. This will allow us all to preserve not only our health but also the health of our loved ones and colleagues,” said the minister.